Great advice from today’s Charlotte Observer:
BE CHOOSY ABOUT YOUR AGENT
Interview several agents to find out who will serve you best, says Charlotte buyer’s agent Julie Tuggle. A buyer’s agent is contractually obligated to represent your interests, not the seller’s. A dual agent also can represent your interests, but if you choose a house listed by that agency, your agent also might be beholden to the seller’s interests. Ask what the agent’s policy is for those in-house listings.
HOW IS YOUR AGENT PAID?
Sellers typically pay a total commission of up to 6 percent, which is usually split between the buyer’s agency and the seller’s agency. Some home sellers also offer bonuses on particular homes. If your agency is receiving a bonus, you are paying more for a house. Ask your agent about these bonuses. When would the agent notify you that a bonus is available? Will it be shared with you?
GET IT IN WRITING
Before you start looking at homes with an agent, establish your relationship in writing, says Charlotte buyer’s agent Kristen Haynes. If your agent makes specific promises about commissions or bonus payments from sellers, make sure they are included in your agreement.
FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOU CAN AFFORD
Get preapproved for a mortgage from three independent sources, and stick to that price limit. A good agent can explain the latest mortgage financing programs, but buyers also should get a “Good Faith Estimate” from each lender they’re considering. That estimate includes mortgage rates, closing costs, property taxes, insurance and other fees.
DO YOUR OWN WORK
Don’t rely solely on your agent to present you with available homes. Drive through neighborhoods you like and scout real estate ads and online listings. Then go to your agent with houses you want to see. Don’t allow your agent to talk you into spending more than you’re comfortable with.
GET IT IN WRITING — PART 2
Before closing, get a copy of the HUD settlement statement, says Haynes. This document, which is often available the day before or the morning of closing, details all costs being paid by the buyer and seller. The agent’s compensation is listed at the top of the second page. Make sure your agent is getting paid the amount you discussed, and that there are no unexpected charges for you. — Peter St. Onge